Friday, April 2, 2010


THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY: Our piece on the directionally challenged nature of recent reporting by the county and local newspaper drew a few emails trying to clear up the confusion as to what exactly happened – or more to the point where- last Saturday when an heroic effort by a father apparently saved the lives of his two sons in the strong ocean currents off the notoriously treacherous Hanakapi`ai beach.

Some confusion might have been due to our own attempt at brevity in saying:

(W)hile there are a couple of “temporary” caves that “appear” on the Ke`e Beach side of Hanakapi`ai – usually in the summer but sometimes in the spring- there are never any that appear “around a bend” on the Kalalau side.

A friend who actually lived in the valley in the early 70’s mentioned the caves that are accessible at times down the beach on the Kalalau side but, as we said, the newspaper story referred to “around a bend” which we took to mean past the valley proper.

Either way, whether they were swept to the Kalalau side- which would be more likely due to the currents- or the Ke`e side something was wrong with the story.

Although out point was that the use of east, west, north and south rather than the island-friendly “in the direction of a location” description- causes more confusion than need be we were still trying to figure out what actually happened when we noted a comment posted yesterday, apparently from the father himself.

He cleared up the matter by saying that the use of the word “cave” was the real misnomer and indeed they were swept with the usual current toward Kalalau.

Although he reiterates the “west” description any examination of a map shows that at that point of Na Pali it is actually southwest and if anything more southerly then westerly... which reiterates our point as to the uselessness of the continental descriptions.

Although we haven’t been able to independently confirm that the comment was actually from the father, here apparently is his harrowing story of the rescue.


I am the 43 year old father in the story. My sons were swept to the left of the Beach as you face the ocean. It is west. We were not in a cave but rather a small depression I was able to get us into just above the waterline. After I rounded the corner I only saw my younger son about 50 feet away in water that looked like the inside of a giant washing machine. Massive waves the size of cars pounded us. I thought Connor might be dead at that point because he was nowhere in sight. I went for Jack screaming for him to swim toward me with all of his strength, but I doubt anything could have been heard He would disappear under the massive waves for what seemed to be 15-20 seconds at a time then miraculously reappear. He is one tough little boy. Eventually we reached each other and I got him in the ring. The cliff walls were sheer and slimy, and the closest hand hold was way above my head an out of reach, but I was in the end able to get to it by timing the water rise. With one hand on I was able to push him up to a point where he could grab and he was able to pull himself to the first ledge. Just then a huge wave came and blasted him into the wall and back into the water. I got back in and we repeated the whole ordeal. When I got him up I shouted for him to climb as high as he could and he got into the small cave and he did a great job! I began looking around for Connor and to my amazement he was in the water about 15 or 20 feet from our location. He had been able to get onto a small rock but had gotten knocked off, I think by the same wave that had knocked Jack off. I was able to toss the end of the ring to him and pull him over to our location and got him up the rock and into the depression. This was not really what I would call a cave, more of a big edge barely out of the waves and extremely difficult to reach with the boys. We are reasonable rock climbers and my older son is a gymnast. timing the waves and not panicking was also key.

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